Staples is known for being one of the very first high street retailers to start selling 3D printers to everyday consumers - and now the officeware and stationary giant has expanded its offering into providing a 3D printing service.
The brand has commenced offering a 3D printing service in two of its US branches, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles, in partnership with 3D printing giant 3D Systems.
Staples is encouraging people to walk in and have their designs 3D printed in-store. Much like taking one's photos to be developed at the chemist. Indeed, using a service provider as opposed to investing in a 3D printer could be likened to going to the chemist or a high street photo shop rather than establishing a dark room at home.
Staples is confident its fledgling service bureaux will continue to multiply, stating it plans to offer similar services in other stores.
This venture sets out Staples as a major rival to established 3D printing service providers such as Shapeways, Sculpteo and Materialise, which operate successful 3D printing services internationally.
Staples' 3D printing service began last year when it first started to offer 3D printing services in a pilot programme in Europe, which has proved most popular with small businesses. Myeasy3D uses Mcor colour paper 3D printing technology to produce photorealistic prints.
When the service was launched, Mcor Co-Founder and CEO Dr Conor MacCormack said: "Although 3D printing is evolving on a similar path to 2D printing, there are no safe, full-colour, low-cost, high-quality 3D printers available on the market today that are suitable for true consumer in-home use. Until that time, consumers will look to service bureaux."
The company, therefore, has a strategy in place having observed the pilot's progress with interest. In the New York and Los Angeles stores, much of the 3D printing will take place in the shop itself, with the Manhattan branch having seven additive manufacturing machines and six different materials. For larger jobs, the production will be outsourced to 3D Systems.
Staples already offers a small range of 3D printers in its stores, including 3D Systems' Cube and CubeX.